Mixed methods review: “the two main bodies of love in the enquiry”

When I’m in a hurry or my thinking gets too tangled I like to record my thoughts on my phone – it’s a useful method to download those things out of my conscious brain and use the instantly translated transcripts as source material.  Also, it’s appropriate source material for the autoethnography method I’m experimenting with, in regard to my personal process.

I love accidents and flashes of inspiration in scientific or artistic practice – they can really turn around a project.. though the accident has to be followed through to a conclusion. (Loria, 2018). The instant transcriber of my verbal stream of consciousness audio recording on my phone is pretty good but not infallible. One of the accidental transcripts (in bold below) it made really appealed to me.

“I went along and looked at it (narrative enquiry) I didn’t want to tell a story about telling stories in 2-D or 3-D I thought to be better it’s about me more, to be reflective about the process, so I think my methodology is going to be a one where I keep a journal I keep subjective thoughts I talk about the creative thoughts that come to me and I like, and so the two main bodies of love in the enquiry that I want to look at in this project are the mechanics of of how you make something happen” Wakulenko, I. (2019) Reflective note transcription  

If I use the accidental simile “the two main bodies of love in the enquiry” and replace it with the two main bodies of work research enquiry – one “body” being subjective – and the other, an objective “body”.

The “bodies of love” that had turned up – the accident in my transcript made me recall the brilliant philosopher Gillian Rose’s autobiographical treatise “Love’s Work” (2011). In it there was a section that she wrote on the boundaries between two people – and rather than a boundary, she proposed love as a permeable membrane that expanded and contracted between the two. Perhaps within the theory of knowledge, knowledge may be described as a permeable membrane between subjectivity and objectivity – I think they are connected and relational.

There are multiple debates in research and in philosophy around subjectivity and objectivity – essentially centring around the question – can there be anything truly objective. Here’s one that says it can, in opposition to a post-modernist stance:

This article argues that subjective processes, social relations, and artifacts (including research instruments and methods) enable researchers to objectively comprehend psychological phenomena. This position opposes the postmodernist contention that subjective processes, social relations, and artifacts interfere with objectivity. (Ratner, 2002).

In Research Methods in Education the authors comment on  a rise in recent years of a third path approach to research, a new paradigm of a mixed methods review where both objective (quantitative) and subjective (qualitative) are used. This, to me, seems both pragmatic and a reflection of the greater complexities of the world that binary approaches offer. According to Rick Reis at Stanford (undated);

 “Creswell and Plano Clark (2011) date the beginnings of mixed-methods research back to the mid- to late 1980s. Methodology experts and writers from all around the world seemed to have been simultaneously working on similar ideas regarding the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods”.

As another approach to my research, I’ve been thinking about using David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle analysis, which would integrate the subjective parts of the process into the learning.

  • as the concrete experience, describe the development and effectiveness of the Coldharbour partnership of two MA courses, Documentary Film who do 2D and MA courses, Virtual Reality, 3D storytelling (with an external organisation
  • the reflective observation – the recordings & blog journal thoughts I write
  • adding qualitative interviews with students/filmmaker to my journal, the conceptualising / learning from both and a review of the literature of 2D and 3D storytelling.
  • active experimentation process will, however occur out of the range of this exercise but I can plan what is next in conjunction with the project partners

I was interested too, in visualisation as a method but was afraid that understanding it as a research method would possibly be too risky and would take up too much time working it out..though images have suggested themselves to me: the moire pattern when visualising the creation of new knowledge, the hourglass shape of a research project (starting out wide, narrowing, going out wide), an apple (a Christian knowledge transgression myth by the female sex resulting in being cast from paradise, a poisoned apple – Snow White, Fermat, a reward, the Judgement of Paris, a gift for the teacher), the beautiful silvery fish (representing my elusive research idea falling back into the water of my subconscious), it could really be a rich area of enquiry. It wouldn’t work for the aim of my research, to produce a written reference for students.

Grading & Reproducability of research
I was fascinated to hear Catherine’s description of the meta study of grading across subjects – with the result that they could not objectively be mapped to standard criteria, there was so much variation in the results.

“Catherine shared her insights from External Moderation Forum with Margaret Price, who has been doing a large piece of work with a sample from across the HE sector, including a range of subject disciplines. Price (2005) found that parallel grading of samples of work varied widely, which leads her to fundamentally question the ‘standardising’ tools that are used.  ” Martin, J.  Formative Assessment Presentations email 18.02.19: Summary Tue 19/02/2019 10:30

Similarly, something I read recently in ScienceAlert about the poor statistics of reproducibility of scientific & social science experiments is currently precipitating something of a reproducibility crisis – by extension, a ‘questioning the standardising tools’ (but with also other factors in play..)

 Context is everything, and a different conclusion might not make the data or even some of the findings bad (Mcrea)

Author of Autoethnography as Method Heewon Chang writes about inserting the personal into the academic, as a “research method that utilizes autobiographical data to analyze and interpret their cultural assumptions”. Critic Sue Butler reviewed Chang’s book and wrote:

To support her central assumption of self, the author draws on the principles of social constructionism proposed by Ken Gergen (1999/2000): What we take to be knowledge of world grows from relationship, and is embedded not within individual minds but within interpretive or communal traditions. In effect, there is a way in which constructionalist dialogues celebrate relationship as opposed to the individual, connection over isolation, and communion over antagonism.

(my emphasis) (Butler, 2009 p. 122)

 The auto-ethnography resource of my recordings / my writing is reflective and personal, yet it is connected to wider cultural knowledge, and in a critical analysis.

A Gillian Rose (and I don’t know yet if they were the same author) wrote a work on Visual Methodolgies – which even if I don’t use Visual Research as methodology, I do want to explore when researching the right project.

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References:

Butler, S. (2009). Considering “Objective” Possibilities in Autoethnography: A Critique of Heewon Chang’s Autoethnography as Method1. The Qualitative Report, 15(1), 295-299. Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol15/iss1/15

Chang, H. (2016) Autoethnography as Method London & New York : Routledge

Cohen, L.,  Manion, L., Morrison, Keith (2011) Research Methods in Education Routledge 

Kolb, D. A. (2015) Experiential learning : experience as the source of learning and development Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Education

Loria, K. (2018) These 18 Accidental And Unintended Scientific Discoveries Changed The World Science Alert. https://www.sciencealert.com/these-eighteen-accidental-scientific-discoveries-changed-the-world

Finnigan, T. , Aronstam, D.  (year) Visual Directions  http://www.arts.ac.uk/cetl/visual-directions (bad link)

Mcrae, M. (2018)  Science’s ‘Replication Crisis’ Has Reached Even The Most Respectable Journals, Report Shows 

Ratner, C. (2002) Subjectivity and Objectivity in Qualitative Methodology FQS  Vol 3, No 3  Access here: http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/829/1800

Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies Sage

Rose, G. (2011) Love’s work New York Review of Books
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